It's not exactly Moses coming down from the mount with a set of tablets, but President Bush has an updated set of "standards of ethical conduct" for government officers and employees.
For instance:Thou shalt not "hold financial interests that conflict with the conscientious performance of duty."
The order does not merely forbid. It seeks what every right-thinking citizen wishes for his country. Such as:
-"Employees shall put forth honest effort in the performance of their duties."
-"Employees shall disclose waste, fraud, abuse and corruption to appropriate authorities."
The White House assures that these principles are not new for the Bush administration; that the president's executive order is "minor fine-tuning" of ethical standards set on April 12, 1989.
On that day, Bush unveiled a fat package of proposals covering activities by executive branch employees as well as judges and Congress. It touched on campaign finance laws and acceptance of speech fees by members of Congress.
The new order covers executive branch employees and officers whose boss is George Bush. These are the same employees who stand to be furloughed in wholesale numbers if there is no budget agreement by Friday midnight.
The order said some fundamental principles of ethical service are in place "to ensure that every citizen can have complete confidence in the integrity of the federal government."
It frowns on employees using federal property "for other than authorized activities" and forbids moonlighting jobs outside of government for most employees, "including seeking or negotiating for employment."
It says employees should obey the laws bearing on equal opportunity regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or handicap.
And it thinks employees, like Caesar's wife, must be above suspicion:
"Employees shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that they are violating the law. . . ."
The rest is more governmentese than Bible. Who is responsible for administering the order? The Office of Government Ethics.
What will that office do? It will do "promulgating . . . developing, disseminating and periodically updating." And, of course, "ensuring."
One of the minor changes the document makes from the 1989 order is allowing lower-paid, non-career government employees to engage in moonlighting.